Maddux and Sons Upholstery

When you think about a successful entrepreneur, your mind probably goes to the big names who are Founders or CEOs of well-known corporations. They probably have book deals and jet set all across the world, speaking at every recognizable seminar, webinar and business event of notability.

But, if I want to really dig deep into what an entrepreneur is, they’ve had numerous failed business attempts, all of which they’ve started from scratch. They’re exciting, innovative and creative. In short, my grandfather was an entrepreneur.

Of course, I didn’t recognize that at the time — sitting in his office at 12 years old, while I answered the phone and set up appointments for his custom upholstery business. But, that’s what he was, and in every sense of the word.

Old-School Entrepreneurs

You see, things weren’t so easy back then. You couldn’t send someone a Slack message, and an all-inclusive business email wasn’t even on the table. You couldn’t monitor your SEO (for a website that doesn’t exist yet), and one of your best marketing moves was getting super creative on the sign that you’d hang out in front of your brick-and-mortar store.

But, that didn’t mean that, back in the day, entrepreneurs weren’t on their toes, ready to snatch every opportunity that came their way. In fact, this was their live-or-die method of becoming successful — and staying successful. 

In other words, they knew the meaning of customer service. I can remember my grandfather, patiently helping a couple select a special fabric for their antique sofa — for almost three hours. And then, they called the following day and changed their minds. But, he never stopped smiling and made sure they had the ultimate customer experience, even though he was dying to get back to his “side hustle” of buying, selling and trading antique cars.

O.G Customer Experience

Now, when we consider the customer experience, which has transcended from basic customer service, it’s probably pretty difficult to think about moving a customer throughout the entire funnel without the methods we rely upon today. That is, it’s nearly impossible to fathom without setting up OKR templates and monitoring things like ROI and CPC. In fact, that would sound like Greek to 20th-century entrepreneurs.

Yet, when we talk about word-of-mouth advertising, that was the only option back then, unless you had quite a large budget for television or radio campaigns. Doesn’t sound like something an entrepreneur would have in their back pocket, does it?

So, the total customer experience was imperative. An online review would equate to a conversation in the grocery store line and boom! You’ve successfully earned a referral. Pretty sweet, right?

Classic SOPs

In today’s business environments, we’re all about creating, referring to and executing our Standard Operating Procedures. More commonly known as SOPs, look at this as your primary go-to for your company processes, procedures and methods for handling regular or day-to-day tasks and projects. 

So, were early entrepreneurs using SOPs? You bet they were! However, they weren’t stored in a Google Drive, or sent to every team member upon onboarding. Instead, they were easily categorized in that giant file cabinet that true entrepreneurs keep in their heads. They didn’t need to hesitate, because the answers were always right there. Consistency was key, but even making big pivots wasn’t unheard of, and could often repay those willing to take a risk with a big reward.

In a Nutshell

I didn’t realize it at the time, but my love for scribbling words on napkins and scrap pieces of paper, and watching my grandfather seemingly effortlessly run every aspect of a profitable business, had inspired me. In my mind, I was a 12-year-old entrepreneur, just waiting for the digital age to bring in content marketing, offering a viable “hustle” to the dreamers and creatives who were once told that writing was only for poetry and short stories.

So, whenever I am feeling challenged, or even a little overwhelmed, yoga or meditation aren’t always my go-to stress relievers. I lift my chin, straighten my posture and remind myself whose granddaughter I am — the greatest entrepreneur I’ll ever know.

Dedicated to Raymond Maddux